Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Rules of Palship

In August of 1915, 14-year-old Noël Coward and his best friend, the actress Esmé Wynne, half-jokingly drew up the following "Rules of Palship," mainly in an attempt to minimise arguments in what was an incredibly close and sometimes turbulent friendship. Apparently the greatest source of friction between the pair was religion — she was a devout Christian, he was agnostic — hence the ninth rule.

More than anything, the resulting list is incredibly sweet.

Full transcript follows.

(Source: The Letters of Noël Coward; Image of Noël Coward via the BBC.)


(1). We must not tease each other and if we begin we must stop directly we are asked.

(2). We must take it in turns to go and see one another and if one goes twice running to the other's house, the other must do the same afterwards.

(3). We must never split on one another even if the PALSHIP is dissolved and we must hold all confidences sacred.

(4). We must share all profits in any transaction made together, however slight the help of the other may be. Profits are excluded from any expenses incurred during the said transaction.

(5). In case of serious quarrel a week or a fortnight may be taken to think things over before abolishing the PALSHIP.

(6). If one hits the other either in anger or fun, he must allow the other to hit back. Any other offence must be paid for.

(7). We must stick up for each other against anyone or anything, and stand by each other in all danger.

(8). We must tell each other all secrets concerned with ourselves, other confidences may be held sacred even from one another.

(9). We must not talk RELIGION unless it is inevitable.

(10). When writing to mutual friends we must tell each other, we must also tell each other what we have said in the letter.

(11). We must swear by "HONOUR AS A PAL" and hold it THE most sacred of bonds in the world.

(12). We must tell each other what we think about the other's appearance or behaviour.

(13). We must go straight to one another in case of mischief being made and believe NOTHING unless it comes from the other's own lips.

(14). NO ONE, not even our Parents, may keep us from one another.

(15). If any other rules are formed or thought of, the must be added (with the consent of both) at the end of this document.

(16). NO OTHER PERSON may be admitted into our PALSHIP or SECRETS.



Dated August the 11th 1915.